Why Culture is Driving Growth for One Home Care Provider

In an industry striving to meet increasing demand, one home care provider is ramping up its growth while developing a differentiated model based on its culture.

Edina, Minnesota-based Lifesprk, a provider of short- and long-term post-acute services in the metropolitan Twin Cities area, is banking on its philosophy of whole person senior care and will continue to carry it through its ongoing expansion.

The agency recently came in at No. 4123 in Inc. Magazine’s 2017 “Inc. 5000” list of the fastest-growing private companies in America, among 22 other in-home care providers. Founded in 2004, the company has grown to 481 employees and posted a revenue of $18.2 million in 2016, with an overall three-year growth of 66%, according to Inc.’s report.


LifeSprk’s range of services include home health—skilled nursing and physical, occupational and speech therapy—community-based home care and senior housing consultation.

The company’s overall culture and philosophy of encompassing services has propelled it into the stratosphere of Inc.’s list of fastest-growing companies, according to Joel Theisen, RN, president and CEO of LifeSprk.

Home Health Care News recently caught up with Theisen to explore LifeSprk’s growth in a population health world.


What is driving LifeSprk’s growth?

I think the biggest contributor to our growth has really been, first and foremost, a strong commitment to the cultural development inside LifeSprk. We work really hard on developing our internal team and internal culture. …LifeSprk is a very differentiated model in that we’re sort of the ‘un-Cola’, if you will, of home care. What I mean by that is we’re about life and not about care, so we rally around clients that get well and that do well and that actually gets beyond their care needs and focus on their passion and purpose.

One of our core service lines is geriatric care management. So when we have not just personal care agents delivering transactional services, but delivering a relationship and a trusted advisory role, our lengths of stay are four to five, to six times the national average. That makes a huge difference on our growth and our ability to grow with [fewer] customers, but deeper customers—customers for life.

How do you sell this business model of “life” versus “care” to the growing aging population?

A lot of times, we have to sell through different resellers, if you will, like social workers and discharge planners, and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and hospitals, etcetera. So, it starts with selling them, and it’s selling them on the outcomes.

[With] the model we deploy and the outcomes we create, [it] gives us more clients because no one is doing what we’re doing, and we’re about helping people get well, not just about taking advantage of the revenue opportunity on the downstroke for caregiving. And, so, it’s a great value proposition, and the way to do that is through storytelling and through data and outcomes. When you have data and outcomes—both the art and science—you can knock out the competition because no one speaks the way we speak.

What are the growth strategies? How do the different business lines serve growth goals?

A big way that LifeSprk has been different than a lot of the traditional home services company is … We truly have a commitment to partnership. And we have built intentional relationships with the entire continuum to create integrated delivery systems that produce clients for life. We have a contracted relationship where we’re creating linear outcomes through the entire experience of a customer, from hospitalization through the skilled nursing facility visit. We have created and we deliver transition of care models out of SNFs, so we do consulting services for skilled nursing facilities … in addition to home health services.

When [patients] need community-based or home health services, we are the provider as well. By doing that intentionally and helping them create affinity and lock into their perceived clients that they want to maintain over time, we have created a lot of growth through partnerships. It’s a really critical strategy that has taken a lot of time to figure out.

How can home care companies thrive in a population health environment? Where does home care fit in?

I think in a population health model, home health and home care should be leaders. They should be the ones managing clients and managing risk along the whole continuum. So, I think how that turns into practical application is that the relationship that happens and the ultimate design of how you provide value and services—be it skilled or un-skilled home care—is really the path to triple aim. Where are all the cost in the system? It’s all in acute reactive care, so if you can avoid acute reactive care, you basically save 70% to 80% of the spend of a senior in later life.

What home care has to do is show and demonstrate value through outcomes—that they can develop the trusted relationship and create lower costs, improve outcomes and improve client experience. I’m really bullish on home care not only surviving but thriving.

What future initiatives do you have planned for the company?

We’re in the process right now where we’re really focused on developing partnerships with national-scale partners. So, we’re in the process of negotiating several different opportunities to take LifeSprk on the road and spread out beyond Minnesota.

We’ve been building this model for a number of years organically, and now, with all of our success, with the team that we’ve assembled, the culture we’ve developed, the outcomes we’ve created and the differentiation that we have, it’s time for us to start to show the world what we are and how to redesign care for seniors. It’s going to be a rapid expansion of who we are and what we want to be.

Written by Carlo Calma

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